Best of Three: School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblacki and No Place by Todd Strasser

Okay, I confess.  I didn’t quite have a full lesson plan to keep the kids busy for the second to the last day of school so I decided each class would begin with fifteen minutes of reading time.  Their all supposed to have a book with them throughout the day, just in case they have free time for reading, so this should work.

I arrive, set up the agenda, find the online-countdown-clock, set it for fifteen minutes and turn on the projector so everyone can see it.  The kids start to come in for first period…

Where’s my book?  I’ve left it at home.

So in a panic I grab the three books from the book fair that have been sitting on my desk for two months now and decide to give them each a try.  I have three English classes, three sets of fifteen minutes, try each one and see if there’s one  should read all the way through.

The first book was No Place by Todd Strasser.  I’ve read and enjoyed other book by Todd Strasser in the past, some of my students have as well, but this one looked really heavy.  You know from the cover art that this is not going to be a light read.

From fifteen minutes  I learned that the book is about a student who is trying to get through school while living in a homeless shelter.  Current events will figure heavily in the plot line as there is a debating team and a minor character who is trying to get students interested in the Occupy movement.

Too many issues.  I don’t think I will be a hit it the students but I will put it out with next years Reading Race selections.

The second book I gave fifteen minutes to was The Book o Bad Things by Dan Poblocki.  You can tell from the cover that this is a fun and a book your teacher probably won’t have to push.

However, the start was a little weak.   We get a flash back that hints at what’s to come followed by an excerpt from a journal and then chapter one.  I know that this sort of thing is popular in Y.A. lit but kids don’t really like it.  It makes for confusing reading for twelve and thirteen-year-olds.  Once the story finally got going, it was okay.  I had the feeling it would be a while before things got  the good parts.


The third book I read is also not one I will be finishing.


Check out this opening sentence.

Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped.

I know right away that this would be a book my students would love.  There’s no point in telling you what it’s about.  That opening works so well that I could just read it to my classes and I’d have at least three students fighting for it.  In fact, one of them tried to do just that this morning, grabbing it off of my desk on her way to her seat because she had forgotten her book at home.